Welcome to the Sunshine State! Did you know that Florida is one of the only States in America where 19% of residents and seasonal residents are over the age of 60? The sun, the sand, the ocean, and the perfect place to spend cold winter months… particularly if you have a chronic health condition. Talk about a well-deserved vacation! The ability to leave the snow behind and really enjoy yourself.
Florida sees an average of 900,000 seasonal residents annually. As you might have guessed, the vast majority of the seasonal residents are seniors. They are an important part of the tourist economy to the State of Florida. Florida sees 111.8 million domestic visitors (from other states), 3.5 million Canadians and 10.8 million tourists from overseas locations annually.
In the first six months of 2019 (winter and early spring), Florida saw 68.9 million tourists. The majority of tourists are from other regions across the United States. The “snowbirds” either own property in Florida as temporary residents or they lease vacation homes to enjoy a stay of 4-6 months on average.
Because of the increasing number of Americans who are wintering in Florida annually, access to doctor supervised medical cannabis makes sense. Seniors have the highest prevalence of chronic healthcare issues and can benefit from medical marijuana.
How Do Snowbirds Get Medical Marijuana as Seasonal Residents in Florida?
When you think about all the great reasons why seniors spend 4-6 months in Florida, add one more to the list. The State of Florida improved access to medical marijuana for seasonal residents who have qualifying health conditions.
You do not have to be a year-long, permanent resident of Florida to receive your medical cannabis card. There is a list of qualifying diagnoses that you must meet before you can start the marijuana certification process.
If you have heard that it is hard to get a medical marijuana card in Florida, you’ll enjoy the simple process that is involved. Seasonal residents receive their medical marijuana cards within just ten (10) business days.
How Does Florida Identify Seasonal Residents for Medical Cannabis?
According to State law, any person who resides temporarily in Florida can be defined as a seasonal resident. The individual must reside in the State of Florida for 31 consecutive days in each calendar year. Snowbirds spend several months in Florida, but even shorter visits allow them to be eligible for a medical marijuana card.
The other legal requirement to be designated as a seasonal resident of Florida, is that you actually go home at some point during the year. For instance, if you lived in New York and you spend 2-3 months in Florida, but return to your primary residence at least once per year, you meet the requirements. You also must demonstrate that you maintain a residence in another state, and that you pay income tax in your home state.
This requirement has to do with the calculation of state income taxes. Snowbirds (even if they spend a long duration in Florida) are taxed at the rate of their home residence outside of Florida. If you do not maintain a separate place to live outside of Florida, you can be deemed a permanent resident and subject to income tax in the state of Florida.
It can get a little complicated tax-wise, so if you unsure, you may want to speak to an accountant about requirements to remain taxable in your home state.
Can Seasonal Snowbirds Acquire a Recommendation for Cannabis from a Local Doctor?
Assuming you meet the qualifying health conditions, according to Florida state laws, you will have to find a special kind of doctor. In Florida, regular primary care physicians cannot certify patients for medical marijuana. If you have a health provider you have been using for years in Florida, you will have to consult with a different doctor for access to medical marijuana.
Physicians provide medical evaluations to determine if medical cannabis is a benefit for each patient. They must participate in state training, and belong to a registry. If the physician receives complaints, he or she may be removed from the registry in Florida, and prohibited from helping patients.
How Do Physicians Become Medical Marijuana Doctors in Florida?
To ensure that Florida doctors who evaluate patients for medical marijuana are in legal safety compliance, they are required to take a state course. Only licensed medical doctors and osteopathic physicians in Florida are currently eligible to recommend medical marijuana to patients. And only when the physician can determine that medical marijuana will have a positive impact on the patient’s overall wellness.
The class is provided by The Florida Medical Association. It teaches doctors the safe and correct procedures to evaluate and recommend medical marijuana for therapeutics.
An examination of the Florida medical marijuana laws.
An understanding of qualifying patient conditions and contraindicated therapies.
Knowing the types and delivery methods that are legalized in Florida (oral, sublingual, topical, inhalation, rectal and smokable options).
How to submit patient application forms.
Florida physicians who provide medical cannabis certification must have an unrestricted and active license to practice. If the physician has violated Florida law, they can have restrictions imposed on their medical license. That would disqualify them from evaluating and consulting with patients who need medical marijuana.
Do Any Florida Doctors Own Private Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers (MMTCs)?
According to Florida law, a physician cannot have a conflict of interest when they are a medical marijuana practitioner. If a physician runs a laboratory for drug testing for example, he or she cannot wholly or partly own MMTCs.
The physician must not in any way benefit economically from certifying patients for medical cannabis. They are permitted to charge a fee for their services. They also cannot sell their patient medical cannabis products. These laws are in place to ensure that a doctor is not helping to provide access to marijuana to profit from the sale of products in an MMTC.
On our website, you will also find a large directory of physicians who provide online marijuana card assessments in Florida. You don’t even have to drive to a doctor’s office to start the process. If you have a tablet, a laptop or a smartphone, you can be evaluated using HIPAA-compliant telehealth applications right from the comfort of your own home. That’s great news for patients with mobility challenges.
The State of Florida has made sure that seasonal residents are not left behind when they need to seek alternative health options. Almost one-million Americans call Florida their seasonal home. Now, thanks to compassionate State legislation, Snowbirds have a practical alternative to opioids for pain relief, muscle spasms, arthritis, and other uncomfortable health conditions.